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The Seven Kingpins of Los Prados

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Tia Demant, aka Jack, was wiped. Thursdays meant four different classes, spread out over the mile-wide college campus, with barely any time for lunch. Not to mention the study group for History and Politics that started an hour late then lasted two hours too long. It was already 8 pm and Jack hadn’t eaten since the granola bar she had for lunch. Walking to her apartment a few blocks from campus, she couldn’t wait to get inside and finally rest.

At least until she has to get started on the homework due on Monday.

Why do professors assign homework over the weekend? Jack’s thoughts trailed off as she reached her apartment building. It wasn’t anything special—a four story building with stairs and walkways leading to the apartment doors that faced the quiet street. Some tenants had tried to liven things up with welcome signs hung on doors or potted plants sidled up under the windows. There were at least a dozen other complexes just like it in the neighborhoods around Los Prados University.

Jack stood at the bottom of the metal stairs. Her apartment was on the fourth floor. With a huff, she braced herself and pasted on a smile before sprinting up the stairs as fast as she could. A force of habit, but this time she was too tired to keep track of time and see if she could break her record. Climbing the balcony railing would have been faster anyways (not that Jack does that often. Only when she’s really in a rush).

With a mad climb up the noisy stairs and a dash down the walkway, Jack shoved a key in the lock and threw open the door.

“I’m hooooome!” Once inside, Jack help her arms out and panted to catch her breath, like a gymnast who just finished a tough routine. The smile never left her face. How could it? She had just come home to the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Hey. What, did you run all the way here?” Ryder Destry, Jack’s roommate, responded from the living room couch. She was looking over a map, probably for work. She held it open as she leaned back, feet up on the coffee table and steel-toed boots left at the ready nearby. Her leather jacket matched her dark, silky hair that rested to the side on one shoulder. Her shining eyes looked back at Jack, waiting for an answer but teasing all the same. A small smirk even graced those red-painted lips, making Jack’s heart skip a beat. But this was Ryder, her roommate for more than a semester now. Jack was definitely not in love with her.

Without an answer from the out-of-breath student, Ryder carried on, “By the way, since you were coming home late, I left dinner on the counter for you.”

Scratch that-- Jack was completely, deeply, hopelessly in love with Ryder Destry.

“My hero!” Jack spun on her way to the kitchen, dropping her book bag on the counter on the way. It only took a few steps; the apartment was not very big, with one bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen/living area. The furniture was nothing fancy, mostly things that the girls either got from their parents or from local second-hand shops.

“By the way, I’m going to work in a few minutes. Just got another job this morning.” Ryder said as she looked back at her map of the city. Sometimes she took on odd jobs as a carrier, transporting packages around the city. It wasn’t the most reliable job, but it was something she could do to get some extra cash.

Jack climbed onto the couch, a still-warm plate of grilled fish and canned carrots in hand. “You’ve been getting a lot more work lately. Is it that Wesley guy again?”

“It’s Wechsler. And yeah, same guy,”

Jack paused from eating to give Ryder a suspicious look, squinty eyes and doubtful pout included, “And what are you transporting for him this time?”

Ryder saw the “glare” and only let out a short laugh. It was as beautiful and clear as a choir of bells.

“What’s with that look? Are you worried I’m doing something illegal? I’m just delivering packages.” With that, Ryder folded up her map and reached for her boots.

“So you don’t know,” It was a statement, not a question. Jack watched as Ryder stood up with a shrug and took her white motorcycle helmet from the coat rack by the door. “Aren’t you ever curious about what it is you’re delivering? What kind of stuff are you even carrying around?”

Ryder tucked her helmet under one arm and grabbed a second from the rack—a black half-helmet with a leather strap. “If you’re so curious, you could come with me this time,”

There was no way Jack could say no to that gorgeous little smirk. She shot up from the couch, last bite of dinner already gone. “I’ll go get changed!”


“This is the place,” Ryder flipped down the brake stand on her teal Victoria KR 3. Jack hopped up as fast as she could, taking in the fine establishment in front of her. Okay, “fine establishment” was a total lie. The girls were in an alley, hidden far from the street by a series of turns. The establishment in front of them seemed awfully out of place in an alley—its ornate wood door was flanked by two Corinthian columns and stained-glass lanterns lit up the small area. A ritzy establishment in a hidden location.

“OOhhhh, is this one of those speakeasies?” One could practically see the sparkles in Jack’s eyes. These underground bars were illegal, yes, but they had been the talk of the town recently as most people ignored Prohibition in favor of these small, luxurious hangouts. She turned back to Ryder, “So you are doing illegal stuff!”

Ryder just rolled her eyes. “I’m just picking up a package. Nothing more than that,” She said. Jack didn’t seem any less fascinated by the prospect.

“We’ll just get in, pick up the package, get the delivery address, then drop it off there. Simple,” Ryder explained, “We won’t even need those weird ‘roller skate shoes’ you insisted on bringing.” She shot Jack another teasing smirk.

“Hey, it’s roller blade shoes. There’s a difference. Also, they’re super useful”

“Was the matching jacket necessary too?”

Jack felt a blush creep onto her face. So maybe when she was changing earlier, she decided to wear jeans and a leather jacket just like Ryder. The only real difference was the neckerchief that Ryder wore. But she was joining Ryder at work and it made sense for coworkers to wear matching outfits, right? Right… Jack hoped it was too dark to see her blush.

“Let’s just get going, okay? We’re on a schedule, right?” Jack tried to hide her fluster with a smile and a jaunty walk up to the door. She knocked twice and waited. No answer.

Ryder let out another small, gorgeous laugh and walked up to the door herself. “You need to know the right way to knock,” she explained.

“Huh?”

With one slow knock and two quick ones, the door was opened, shining light onto the two young women.

“’Evening,” the mountain of a man on the other side of the door stood aside to let Ryder and Jack pass. Jack looked at him curiously as the girls went by but made sure to stay behind Ryder. It was easy, considering Ryder is nearly a full head taller than Jack. But the two women looked like midgets compared the guard. The man looked like he could snap a log in half! He didn’t say anything more and let them go on their way.

The girls walked down the narrow yet tastefully decorated hallway, fancy sconces lining the walls and one carved wooden door at the end. Ryder leaned over to Jack and whispered, “Just stay behind me and watch. We won’t be here long.” Jack nodded nervously. She couldn’t help but feel a small thrill of excitement. What kind of people would they meet in a place like this?

The answer came to her as Ryder led her through the door at the end of the hall into an equally ornate room. At the dimly lit yet tastefully decorated bar stood three men: one whose clothes gave him away as the bartender, a short one with a fine suit that seemed out of place next to his crooked teeth, and one nearly as mountainous and the guard by the front door (or back door, as it were). On top of that, each of these men looked as suspicious as Jack would have expected from a place like this. The glint in their eyes could scare away a puppy. 

With two strides of her long legs, Ryder halved the distance between her and the men. Jack took notice of the way Ryder didn’t come within arms reach of them. She also decided to stay half a step behind the more confident woman.

“Yous here fer the deliv’ry?” The crooked-toothed man asked, straight to business. Apparently not much of a gentleman.

“Yep, just need the package and the drop-off location,” Ryder replied nonchalantly. She was always so cool under pressure!

The bartender silently nodded and brought out a metal lock box from behind the counter. Mountainous Man #2 passed it along to Ryder with one hand with ease.

Ryder then handed it off to Jack to hold. She took it and looked at it curiously. Surely Ryder had to question the contents of her packages from time to time, right? And who sent packages in a heavy lock box instead of just a cardboard box? Jack rummaged around in her pockets- she was sure she had a hairpin in there somewhere.

“And the address?” Ryder continued as if there wasn’t something clearly illegal going on here. Jack shifted behind Ryder a bit more, out of direct sight of the men.

The crooked-toothed man answered again. Was he the only one in this building who was allowed to speak in full sentences or something? Unfortunate.  “Corner a’ Paza Street n’ Daylight Avenue. We needs it there by midnight.” Ah, Jack recognized that place: the National Bank of Los Prados. It was a big marble building right in front of a big roundabout so it was hard to miss. What kind of package could these sleaze bags be delivering to such a ritzy place?

Click!

The answer came to Jack in the form of what seemed to be several hundred dollars packed neatly in the previously locked box. Really, picking a single lock like that was just too easy.

“Huh,” Jack’s short sound of discovery was followed by a shocked silence. Even Ryder had turned around with a pale face and widened eyes. It was short lived, however, before the crooked-toothed man’s face twisted into a crooked snarl and he marched right up to the girls. 

“Whatta ya doin’, huh? Yous knows that ya ain’t s’possed to open the packages. It’s the first rule a’ working with Mistuh Wechsler!”

Ryder took half a step back, arm out to make Jack do the same. “Come on, now,” she said, “it was just a mistake. The box must not have been locked properly. A simple mistake. Right, Jack? ” Her look back towards the other girl made it clear that she did  not believe that the box opening was anything but intentional. Jack was starting to regret showing off her lock picking skills to Ryder in the past. Now there was no denying it.

Crooked-teeth took this as an opportunity to point an accusing finger at Jack. “Are you twos sayin’ that my men here would make a mistake like dat? Mistuh Wechsler promised me the best carrier he had and now look! You twos are makin’ a mock’ry a’ my upstandin’ business!”

Jack couldn’t stop herself from letting out a snort. Everyone else in the room stopped at the unexpected response from the girl. “Upstanding business? What kind of upstanding business needs to launder money through a dirty bank?”

Jack.”

“What? You do a lot of jobs for this Wechsler guy. If they’re all like this, with illegal businesses sending money to the bank and whatnot, it means the bank is the one doing the money laundering. They probably take a cut from each business then give the rest back disguised as a legit investment.”

Jack!”

“I’m just saying: no one would question the biggest bank in town.”

Jack’s quick thinking and disregard for social queues would be the end of Ryder one day, surely. For now, they led to a very short and very red-faced man whose teeth were only going to get worse with how much he was grinding them.

“Now,” the man began,” Yous twos are gonna give me back dat box an’ then you’re gonna leave an’ pretend like none a’ this evva happened. Capiche?”

Ryder sighed in defeat, “Yeah, alright.” There goes her paycheck for tonight. “Jack?” She turned towards the shorter girl, holding out her hand expectantly. She could have guessed what would happen next based on Jack’s nervous smile.

“Jack, don’t you dare-“

Jack closed the lock box with a quick thunk. 

“Run!” She took Ryder’s hand, tucked the box under her other arm, and made a mad dash towards the door. They faced their first problem almost immediately: in the narrow hallway, their exit from the building was completely blocked by Mountainous Man #1. Judging by how he looked ready for a fight, he had already figured out something was wrong.

“Don’t let them dames leave!” Crooked-teeth had entered the hallway, followed shortly after by Mountainous Man #2. Both guards advanced slowly, leaving Jack and Ryder little room to escape.

“Heh, now yous done it,” Crooked-teeth gloated from a safe distance, “My guys here are gonna have ta take yous ta Mistuh Wechsler so we can explain the situation. Yous bettta hope he’s in a good mood tonight.” That man just would not shut up, huh?

Despite the dire situation, Jack stood up tall and gave a bright grin. She could get Ryder and herself out of this. 

“You know what? I’d like to meet this Wechsler guy,” Jack took a second to heft the heavy lock box up by her shoulder, “but on my own terms.” At that, she launched the box into the air, down the hallway, straight into the head of the man blocking the exit.

He fell like a great sequoia. Jack was just surprised he didn’t leave a dent in the floor.

Taking their chance, Ryder and Jack dashed towards the door, right over the fallen man. Whether or not their steps caused him a few bruises wasn’t really a concern at the moment. On the way, Jack also scooped up the lock box.

“Why are you bringing that!?” Ryder asked as she grabbed their helmets off the handles of her Victoria.

“It’s evidence.”

Ryder hoisted herself up onto the motorcycle, starting the engine at the same time. Jack followed suit and the two were zipping out of the alley before the men could leave the building. 

“Heh, that was a close one. Are your jobs always like this?” Jack said over the roar of the wind. The lock box was still tucked under one arm.

She couldn’t see Ryder’s face under the helmet visor, but her angry tone of voice was enough to give away her expression, “Why did you have to go and open that thing? My job depends on me being able to deliver these things, no questions asked!”

Jack decidedly did not like seeing Angry Ryder. Yet she responded in kind. 

“Oh, come on. Those guys were obviously involved in some bad stuff. I was just-“

Jack was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires as a red Roadster turned onto the street behind them, cutting off traffic and speeding towards the motorcycle. Out of the passenger window, a very familiar set of crooked teeth sneered at the girls. 

“Uh, Ryder?”

On it!”

Putting her Victoria to the test, Ryder picked up speed and started weaving through traffic. They were nearing the city center, where even at this hour vehicles filled the streets. 

“Go left here!” Jack pointed at the upcoming intersection. Ryder did, barely slowing down enough to make the turn.

“Why, where are we going?”

“To the National Bank of Los Prados of course!”

“You want us to go to the people who probably want us killed? Are you insane!?”

“I have a plan! The bank’s offices overlook a roundabout, right? That one with the fountain.”

“I don’t see where you’re going with this,” Ryder continued to speak up over the wind while managing to stay ahead of the Roadster still following intently. 

“Just get those guys to follow you to the fountain and I’ll handle the rest.”

Just ahead, the roundabout in question was coming into view. With little time to come up with another idea, Ryder obliged. 

Paza street and Daylight Avenue met at roundabout rather than an intersection. Three lanes of spinning traffic circled a brick courtyard, outlined by iron railing, where a three-tiered fountain sat in the center of it all and sparkled under the lamplight. This particular part of town housed a ritzy commercial district. Even now, pedestrians window shopped at the department stores lining the streets. 

However, one corner of the block was taken up by the bank, it’s marble front wall and columns curving into a concave half circle to match with the circular road in front of it. The building was clearly designed for this particular spot, a symbol of monetary gain in the middle of the commercial district. 

And with nine floors of windows curving around the center courtyard, this Mr. Wechsler character had a clear view of the well lit fountain. 

As Ryder entered the roundabout, she was forced to slow down with the other cars crowding the circuit. The same could be said for the pursuing Roadster. At the very least, the girls might be able to lose them in the twirling crowd. 

Jack, lockbox still in hand, maneuvered her right leg to the left side of the motorcycle seat, ready to jump. “Just keep circling around then pick me up after!” 

“After what exactly?” Ryder asked. 

“You’ll see!” Jack have a charming smile before activating her roller blade shoes and hopping down to the street, rolling alongside traffic. She gave one last smug smile to Ryder. Given a less dire situation, the older women would have rolled her eyes in response. Instead, she zipped ahead of Jack, intent to stick to the plan.

Jack lagged behind, skating between the passing cars and ignoring the honks from surprised drivers. Soon, the Roadster caught up to her. 

Mountainous Man #2 drove while Crooked-teeth sat in the passenger’s seat, whipping his head around in search of the girls. He was looking around so frantically, he didn’t even see when Jack rolled up to the passenger window and gave it a knock

Needless to say, the man was surprised. He even jumped enough to hit his head on the car’s ceiling. Luckily the man driving was not so jumpy. Jack held up the lock box and gave the two a friendly wave. 

“GIMME THAT BACK!”

The loud yell could be heard even through the glass. At that moment, Jack rushed to skate faster, cutting in front of the Roadster and to the left, hopping over the iron railing of the center courtyard. Instead of following any form of traffic laws, the men decided to come to a screeching halt in the middle of the road before throwing the car doors open and pursuing on foot. 

Jack stopped just by the fountain to take in the scene. Cars were swerving around the stopped Roadster and honking at the sudden disruption. Pedestrians on the outer sidewalks of the circle turned to look at the commotion. Crooked-teeth didn’t seem to care. 

“Gimme dat box now and maybe I won’t have ta tell Mistuh Wechsler about all dis,” He said, stopping just a few feet from Jack. The mountainous man behind him cracked his knuckles menacingly, as if Jack didn’t really have any other option. She did, of course. 

Jack started up skating again, slowly starting to circle the fountain. She put up a finger to her chin, pretending to think. “Hmmm… how about…. I don’t do that.”

“Then my friend here is gonna have ta take it!”

And at that, the mountainous man charged toward Jack. Or at least he tried to. She deftly skated out of the way. The man’s momentum led him to faceplant directly into the fountain, head and shoulder slamming into the water. By the time Jack had circled the fountain once, he was back on his feet and dragging puddles of water onto the brick courtyard. 

The man tried to take another swing at Jack, but she only ducked and continued skating in circles, gaining speed and leaving lines of water on the ground.

“Stop messin’ with us!” Crooked-teeth yelled after another failed swing from his companion.

Jack didn’t slow down but responded anyway, “Well, alriiiight.” The grin on her face was not reassuring to the two men.

Jack picked up the pace. Speeding along the edge of the courtyard, she once again opened the lock box. This time, bills came flying out like confetti. They started fluttering around in traffic, but the wind from the bustling cars brought them even farther. After just two laps around the courtyard, hundreds of bills were carried across traffic and to the populated sidewalks.

Excited screams rang out as shoppers grabbed at the falling bills. Drivers even stopped their cars and got out to get their own shares. The intersection of Paza Street and Daylight Avenue was suddenly turned into a sight to behold and people grabbed for the dispersed currency. 

Jack came to a rolling stop a few feet from the two men, but they hardly noticed. They were too busy racing around to try and pick up some of the closer fallen bills. She gave a shrug, open and empty lockbox hanging from one hand.

“Oops,” she said with an unapologetic smile. 

Looking up at the National Bank of Los Prados, Jack could see a number of figures gazing out the windows, marveling at the sight below. One stood out though: a single figure on the top floor.

Mr. Wechsler. The man behind who knew how many schemes across Los Prados. A corrupted man, quite literally standing at the top of the city’s economy. Jack could only imagine the look of anger on his face right now as he saw one piece of his underground empire exposed to the world. 

Maybe, Jack thought, she should expose the rest of it too. 


Edward Wechsler was not a happy man. Not now, nor on the best of days. He looked down at the courtyard with a rigid jaw and a disapproving glare. He could see the grunts who had botched their payment, the men still bumbling after what cash remained drifting around the area. Already, police would be on their way to try and tame the commotion. Then there would be an investigation into where the money had come from. 

Oh well; the city would have one less speakeasy and Wechsler wouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of clearly incompetent underlings himself. Even if they talked to the police, the banker knew they wouldn’t find any evidence in his records. Besides, it wasn’t as if he didn’t have other forms of income.

For now, he could let one slip up slide. But still, he was not happy a happy man.

Chapter Text

Police Inspector Calvin Mallory is someone that many of his co-workers would consider an unlucky man. There were the usual things, say, for instance, how often he knocks over a coffee mug at the station or how he always ends up on patrol during rainy days. These instances were, of course, always followed up by a quick apology or an off-handed comment about a broken mirror. But then there were the less than usual examples of the man’s foul luck. Like the time he and his officers were searching for a prison escapee in the woods, only for Inspector Mallory to step right on top of the man in question who hid under a suit made of grass. Or the time the Inspector stopped by a gas station on his day off right as a robber decided to run out of the building, leading to a two-mile pursuit while wearing flip flops. Truly, Inspector Mallory was what many in the business call a shit-magnet.

But make no mistake-- despite his luck, Inspector Mallory has earned his position in the Los Prados Metropolitan Police. In every strange case and unfortunate circumstance, the Inspector has used his skills and good judgement to preserve justice and uphold the law. It only makes sense that he would be called to the scene of this evening’s unusual crime.

“What have we got, Johnson?” The scowling Inspector asked as he walked up to the patrolling officer that had called the station. As he walked up, his ever-present trench coat fluttered a bit with his brisk steps.

“We think it’s a botched robbery, sir.” Johnson answered with a salute. A bit unnecessary.

“Who’s the victim?”

Johnson gestured to the two men--a short one who was grinding his teeth in a quiet rage and a large one who’s suit and hair were still dripping wet--who had been apprehended and were currently sitting in the back of the patrol car.

“And why, exactly, are the victims sitting in the back of the patrol car?”

“When my partner and I tried to get their statements, they started throwing punches. Wouldn’t calm down, so now we’re bringing ‘em in for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Also…” Johnson looked around the stopped round-a-bout nervously, “I think we need to ask them about how they got so much cash in the first place. But they won’t talk.”

Right. The Inspector had been told the story over the radio on the way here. All of a sudden, cash had been flying around the whole plaza, causing a frenzy. Even now, a crowd was still gathered outside the crime scene, hoping to get a few bills. But they had all been picked up pretty quickly. 

“How much cash are we talking?” The Inspector asked.

“Over two hundred forty dollars, sir. But that’s only what my partner and I could get from the men when we arrived. There’s no telling how much was there before people in the crowd walked off with it.”

Inspector Mallory raised an eyebrow at the officer. “And that’s all of the money the guys had when you caught them?”

“Of course sir! Counted it myself!” Johnson saluted again. Good; Inspector Mallory would not tolerate any of his own men trying to sneak off with stolen cash like some of the passersby did.

And that was only a small portion of what had been there. Which begs the question: what were two people doing carrying around so much cash? Inspector Mallory was not usually one to profile, but those two men didn’t exactly look like high rollers. And there were any number of scrupulous businesses going on in this city that two men could make a lot of money off of. But that’s a part of the investigation that would have to wait until questioning. Now, the Inspector needed to answer a very different question: who took the money from these men and decided to throw it out into the wind?

Of course Inspector Mallory would be the one who had to deal with such a ludicrous thief. 

“I’m going to check out the scene,” the Inspector told Johnson. He walked past the man, ignoring the unnecessary salute and chime of “ Yes, sir!

At the fountain, things seemed pretty normal. After all, there had been no weapons used, the Inspector could tell that much just by looking at the “victims.” But the water… He knelt down to examine the puddle splashed outside one side of the fountain. Luckily, it was after dark on a cool night and the water had not yet evaporated.

There were the obvious splashes from where the large man seemingly fell into the fountain then ran around the courtyard, apparently chasing the thief. But those thin trails of water circling the fountain… were from wheels? Had someone pushed a toy car around? That made no sense.

The sheer strangeness of his next realization caused the Inspector to voice his suspicions out loud: “Roller skates?”


“I cannot believe you actually did that,” Ryder said as she face-planted into their apartment’s couch. The girls had made a quick getaway as soon as they heard police sirens and thanks to Ryder’s expertise in breaking speed limits without being arrested, they were now home safe and sound.

“Hey, I wanted to get the police’s attention. And I did,” Jack said with a shrug and the usual smug smile as she sat down on the rug in front of the couch.

“That you did. I’m just glad it’s over ,” Ryder huffed as she turned her head to face Jack, silky black hair floating up then back down again. After a moment, her expression morphed into a smile and she let out the most adorable giggle Jack had heard all day. “I can’t believe your roller skates actually came in handy!”

Jack let out her own laugh as the absurdity of the situation hit the both of them.

“I told you they were cool!” Jack said between laughs.

“Here I was worried that you couldn’t handle a night as a carrier, but you ended up skating circles around those guys! And did you see their faces when you actually threw that money up in the air? They knew they were screwed!”

Another fit of laughter.

“Yeah! I can’t wait to see the look on the banker guy’s face when I expose his operations to the police!”

Suddenly only one person was laughing now. In the lack of that signature giggle, Jack stopped laughing and looked up at Ryder who was now looking at her with an almost horrified expression.

“You’re not actually thinking of trying to mess with Mr. Wechsler, are you?” Ryder asked.

“Well, sure. He’s probably running illegal speakeasies - and who knows what else - all around town. Shouldn’t someone, I don’t know, do something about that?”

Jack knew she was right, but still felt some sense of regret when Ryder looked at her like she had just suggested running off a cliff.

“Jack, you can’t just-- Wechsler owns the biggest bank in town!” Ryder was mad now. “You’ll get yourself killed if you try to go up against him!”

“‘Go up against him?’ Ryder, he’s obviously doing illegal stuff that the police don’t know about. If I can just find some evidence, I can-”

“Jack! This is serious! You just don’t get it!” Ryder’s outburst was followed by silence, Jack looked at her in confusion before Ryder huffed. “Look, I know you can handle yourself, you’ve shown that much tonight. But you can’t get in over your head!”

Ryder walked over to the bedroom door and said, “I’m going to bed. I don’t want anything to do with this.” She shut the door, leaving Jack on the floor of the apartment, confused as to why this was all such a big deal. In over her head? Jack didn’t think something like a banker with a lot of money should stop her from what is clearly right.

They would just have to agree to disagree.

And Jack would just have to sleep on the couch tonight.


It was Friday night on the rooftops of Los Prados’s ritziest commercial district and Jack was… stewing, for lack of a better word. The girls didn’t have classes that day, but Ryder had a job in the morning, so she was gone by the time Jack woke up. Though Jack could have sworn Ryder had planned to spend that day working on homework…. She was immediately seized with panic at the idea of Ryder avoiding her all day. Surely that wasn’t the case. She couldn’t be that mad, could she?

Focus, Jack! She thought, Ryder later, Wechsler now.

Jack looked down from her perch on the top of the department store just next to the National Bank of Los Prados. Honestly, it was easy to get roof access if you knew which doors to go through (usually the ones labeled “Roof Access - Employees Only” but that were unlocked because no one bothers to actually lock them). It was a bit theatrical, positioning herself three stories up and glaring down at the dark alleyway below, but Jack was nothing if not theatrical.

Then, movement. An employee, probably one of the cleaning staff, was leaving through the back door. As suspected, he walked right out the door and down the alley, not looking back at all and leaving the door to close slowly behind him. Jack took her chance. In just a few quick leaps, she made her way down the building, finding various footholds on the Art Deco building. She slipped inside of the bank’s back door just before it closed shut.

“I’m in,” Jack whispered under her breath with a slight smirk. She found herself in what seemed to be an industrial hallway-- no decorations, no windows, but bright lights and some tools and cleaning supplies placed here and there. Seems like every fancy building in town has a place like this, where the normal working people can move around unseen by the high roller clientele.

It was a situation that suited Jack just fine. She pulled the cap from her pocket and over her head-- a plain grey hat to go with her plain work jacket and jeans. Anyone walking by would assume she was a maintenance worker or a custodian. Especially since she was walking around a bank after it had already closed.

She grabbed the nearest piece of cleaning equipment-- an empty mop bucket and mop-- before maneuvering her way deeper into the building. She just had to find an elevator and make her way to the top floor because that was certainly where Wechsler’s office was and it was certainly going to have some evidence of poor business practices.

Thankfully, that was just as easily done as it was said.

Jack had only encountered a couple late working bankers on her way to the office on the top floor. She acted like she belonged there and so no one questioned her.

At the door to Wechsler’s office, Jack was able to walk right in. Honestly, that man put too much faith in his security staff if he didn’t even lock the office door. Inside, the place was extravagant, as expected. It was dark, what with Wechsler having already left for the day, but he exterior wall was all windows letting in the glowing lights of the shops below. Interior walls were lined with Corinthian-style pilasters and paintings of probably important people that Jack didn’t really care about. What she did care about was the large, hardwood desk over by the windows.

She abandoned the mop and cart and raced over to the desk.

“Let’s see…” She muttered to herself as she pushed aside the leather office chair and started opening the many drawers in the heavy desk.

“Pens, checkbooks, some business paper stuff, pens, an actual gold bar somehow, why does this guy have so many pens, more papers but not what I’m looking for….” Jack let out a huff. Of course there wouldn’t be anything important in any unlocked drawers. At least not the kind of important she was looking for. Did bankers really leave gold bars just lying around? Weird.

She looked around the room. It was surprisingly lacking in storage. There was just the desk, a couple cushy chairs across from it, and bookshelves on either side of the door.

“Maybe…” She walked over to the shelves, eyeing a particularly hefty red book.

“Aha!” She ripped the book from it’s spot. Nothing happened.

“Oh, right. There’s a hallway on the other side of this.” She said to herself as she put the book back and was definitely not blushing. She looked back at the room. There were a number of paintings with heavy frames along the interior walls. She decided to inspect them all.

Sure enough, one of the paintings, of a particularly villainous looking business man, swung right open to reveal the safe installed in the wall behind it. Jack went to work right away (keyed locks were not the only thing she thought would be cool to learn how to open). After listening closely, she was able to find the combination and opened the safe with ease. She also couldn’t help letting a triumphant smile show on her face.

Although Jack had been expecting a record of illegal activity, she honestly was not expecting it to be so thorough . The safe was completely filled with documents that precisely listed names, locations, and bookkeeping for a number of illegal businesses across the city. Jack would have thank Wechsler if she ever saw him; his apparent habit of keeping track of everything was going to be super helpful in getting him arrested. There were even contracts signed by him! He was using actual business practices to record all his illegal activity.

Jack took some of the papers, as much as she could hold, and placed it safely into her jacket. The rest-- which was most of it-- she grabbed and threw up into the air with a smile. It fluttered down all over the office, catching the blue and red lights coming in from the window. Wait…

Jack raced to the windows and looked down. Yep, the police were here. At least eight patrol cars were pulling up to the building, officers racing out of the doors and setting up a perimeter around the building. She could have sworn she hadn’t alerted anyone to her being here…

With not many options left, Jack left the office and ran for the stairwell. The police would surely block the back door, but the jump from the fourth floor to the building next door shouldn’t be too bad.

Jack was stopped in her endeavor as soon as she walked out of the office. In the wide hallway between her and the elevator was a whole team of security guards and police officers. She skidded to a halt.

A very unhappy man standing at the back of the group gave a sinister smirk as he laid eyes on the intruder for the first time.

“There, Inspector!” He proclaimed, “That’s the one who broke into my office and stole the gold!”

“Huh? I stole gold?” Jack said aloud.

A man in a trenchcoat walked forward and pulled a police badge from his pocket.

“I am Inspector Mallory with the LPMP, and you are under arrest for breaking and entering and robbery!”

Jack dropped her surprised expression and scratched the back of her head. Breaking and entering, sure, but robbery?

“I don’t remember doing that.” She said.

The Inspector sputtered. “You- Mr. Wechsler called us in because he said someone broke into his office and forced him to open the safe so they could steal the gold inside!” Oh, so that was how the police got here without Jack even tripping an alarm.

“I didn’t break in. The door was open. Also there wasn’t gold in the safe, just these papers.” Jack explained as she unzipped her jacket a bit to show the corners of the stolen documents. It was the truth of matter, after all.

Mrs. Wechsler’s mouth opened in shock before his face quickly morphed into the worst frown it had ever donned (which was really saying something). His plan had backfired because he simply did not account for Jack’s actual ability to open a safe. He realized he’s dealing with a thief, right? Wechsler turned to the Inspector and demanded, “Well, don’t just stand there! Arrest that thief!”

Even without the Inspector’s involvement, the sheer authority in the banker’s voice was enough to send the guards and officers into action. As the group lunged forward, Jack leapt into the air. Four years of track and field in high school will do that to you. She placed a foot on one officer’s head before leaping again, right over the heads of the banker and the Inspector. She activated her roller blade shoes mid-air and was rolling right towards the elevator as soon as she landed.

“Roller skates!?” Inspector Mallory said.

Jack spun around to face him from inside the elevator.

“Roller blades , actually.” She said as the doors shut with a ping .

The Inspector raced forward to the door and jammed the button, but, unfortunately for him, the device was already beyond reach, as shown by the moving indicator above the door.

“Get to the stairs, you idiots!” Wechsler yelled at the guards and officers. They obliged, and the men all went running for the stairwell. All except one. Inspector Mallory continued to stare at the indicator above the elevator, waiting until he saw it stop at the second floor.

The Inspector ran after the men, to the stairwell, but instead of following them to the first floor he stopped and went to the second floor. There, he burst into a dark office floor, cubicles and desks spread out across the otherwise wide open floor. He turned on the light.

Jack stopped in her tracks before she could reach a window. Had they actually followed her here? It didn’t make sense to go anywhere but the first floor, and she should know! She’s the one who thought it would be a good idea to not do that!

“That call Wechsler made: he did that before you even got here didn’t he?” Inspector Mallory’s voice rang out across the otherwise empty room. He walked around briskly, searching between faux walls and potted plants. Jack crept around just as briskly, trying to stay out of sight and as quiet as possible.

“He was waiting for you to sneak in so he could call the department to help catch you.” The Inspector continued his explanation. “He waited for you to come then let you think you would get away with it while he called us. He probably set up some gold as bait, but you didn’t take it.”

Jack, having made her way back to the elevator, turned off the lights.

Inspector Mallory stopped in his tracks before rolling his eyes. There was still plenty of light shining in from the city and lamp posts outside.

“Enough playing around!” The Inspector yelled as he continued to look around, “Why did you throw out that money yesterday? Why did Wechsler expect you to come here? J ust who are you, exactly?

“Why, detective,” The voice came from his left and the Inspector turned to see Jack there, at the end of a hallway of fake walls, perched on the sill of an open window, “you already know who I am: a thief.” In the glow of the city lights, the Inspector could see that smug smile that he knew would haunt him from this moment on.

“Jack!”

The thief looked below, at the source of the noise.

“Well, detective, looks like my ride's here. Until next time,” Jack said. She gave a mock salute and leapt out the window.

The Inspector rushed toward the window, nearly knocking the air out of his lungs as he looked out at the street below. He just barely got there in time to see the thief, Jack, hopping onto the back of a motorcycle and riding away. The Inspector took note of the driver: a woman with dark hair. Unfortunately, that was all he could see of her besides the motorcycle helmet that blocked her face.

The two drove off and the Inspector was left to wonder why he always ended up with the craziest cases.

“Inspector!” Johnson ran up to the man, pulling him out of his stupor. “We’ve successfully secured all of the entrances and exits!”

“It’s too late.”

“Wait, wha-”

“Johnson!”

“Y-yes sir!” (Cue unnecessary salute).

“When we get back to the station I want you to start going through the records. We’re looking for a thief named Jack.”


“You’re going to be the death of me.” Ryder said as she lay, once again, face down on the couch.

“But you still love me~” Jack sang from her position on the floor. She was currently surrounded by the papers she had stolen from the bank. Even just this stack was chock-full of a number of different illegal operations. Speakeasies, drug dealers, “gentlemen’s” clubs. But there was one in particular that stood out to Jack. Mostly because this one wasn’t just a small operation run by a few gangsters. No, this one was bigger.

“‘Cyrus Shapolsky,’” Jack read from the papers in front of her. “He’s some guy who owns, like, half of the apartment buildings on the east side of town. And according to this, he has been manipulating prices so that people pay a lot for apartments that don’t even follow basic safety codes. And he can do it because when he owns so much he decides what the lowest prices are- why are you looking at me like that?” Jack looked up at a Ryder who looked... confused? Amused? Both?

“You just referred to a man who owns half the city as ‘some guy.’”

“Well, yeah. Some guy that owns half the city.”

Ryder let out an exasperated sigh, but smiled nonetheless.

“Hey,” Jack said, “A guy is a guy. I don’t care how much land he owns.”

The two went into a comfortable silence as Jack continued to look over the papers and Ryder watched. Honestly, what was she going to do with that girl?

After a few minutes, Ryder spoke up, “I’m sorry.”

“Huh? What for?”

“Yelling at you. Ditching you when you were about to do something dangerous.”

Jack beamed. “No need to apologize now! I think you already did that when you came back to pick me up.”

“Yeah, well, someone has to keep you out of trouble. If you’re going to keep getting yourself into dangerous situations, you’re going to need someone there to help you get out of them.”

The extraordinary, confident, gorgeous Ryder Destry as her literal partner in crime? In that moment, Jack couldn’t think of anything better.


Within the city of Los Prados was a neighborhood known as Meadow Heights. Ironically, it had not meadows but mansions. Those few blocks of the city were gated off from the rest of it, as if those living there thought themselves above interacting with their own neighbors. The houses there were luxurious. Some had a more modern, minimalist style while others took on a more traditional Art Deco style. None were the same. God forbid that anyone in this neighborhood have to share a floor plan with someone else.

On one of the larger properties of land sat the house of the mayor of Los Prados, Mr. Silvers. It was a bit different from most of the other mansion, using much more classical-inspired architecture, with a basilica-like shape and a plenty of columns and arches. Mr. Silvers was elected five years ago and still held the favor of the people thanks to his efforts to build up the economy and his polite way of speaking.

His daughter, on the other hand, was not so noble. Zareem Silvers was an heiress, a brat, and the leader of the city’s seedy underbelly.

And right now, she was almost as unhappy as Mr. Wechsler. Zareem sat on her bed, dressed in her silk nightgown and absolutely furious. She had just gotten off the phone after being given some very bad news. One of her Kingpins had been arrested. Mr. Wechsler was currently in police custody on suspicion of money laundering, as well as a slew of other unsavory business practices.

And it was some kid named Jack who exposed the whole operation.

Fine then. The Queen could do with one less Kingpin. He was a bumbling idiot anyways, if he was caught so easily. Zareem wouldn’t worry about this Jack character too much. At least, not yet.


Jack was doing one of the things she does best: daydreaming in the middle of a Statistics lecture. That morning, her name had been plastered all over the papers. Well, okay not her name, but “Jack,” a nickname that only Ryder called her. And, okay, not on the front page but a few pages in where it mentions a manhunt for the mysterious thief that the police failed to catch over the weekend. 

But all that didn’t stop Jack from daydreaming about how cool it would be to have her wanted poster printed out on the front page of every newspaper in town. And the name “Jack” had some good implications for a thief. Although the fact that they were looking for a man was weird. Did that detective think that Jack was a man because of her outfit at the time? Well, it suited her just fine. It makes it less likely for her to be recognized during the day. Not to mention the added flair of having a secret identity. Like some sort of vigilante superhero!

Ms. Demant.

“Huh?”

A few snickers rang out across the lecture hall as the professor eyed Jack from the blackboard.

I said , what would be the next step in this equation?”

Jack looked at the board. Right, she was a student. In a lecture. Paying attention was a thing she was supposed to be doing.

“Is it… finding the standard deviation?”

The professor gave a nod before moving on to explain the process to the whole class.

Jack let out a sigh of relief. Then she promptly went back to daydreaming about all the moonlit adventures she was going to have in her new career as a vigilante thief.